Wednesday, July 25, 2012

aMAIZEing

Q: What did the baby corn say to the mama corn?
A: Where's the pop corn?

I may not recommend you say this corny joke, but I do recommend you trying this hearty soup.

A teacher in my culinary school would always say when following a recipe, one must "read in between the lines and then assess the correct way of going about the recipe." Lucky for me, I already do that. Whenever I read a recipe, I decide how to tweak it to be my own.  She also clarified that sometimes recipe techniques don't make sense and we need to use our best judgment and knowledge to fix those problems.

For example, in the original recipe for this corn soup (below), it says to sauté the garlic first and then add to the pot of onions and jalapenos.  This is actually incorrect because if we were to sauté the garlic first, it can easily burn which in turn creates a very bitter flavor. We certainly don't want our sweet corn soup to taste bitter.  I tweaked the recipe by reversing the order of the onions and garlic. It takes a lot longer to sauté onions than garlic.
 
 When roasting the corn for the guacamole, you want the corn to caramelize and get crunchy because the kernel will only get sweeter.
The jalapenos give a little kick, the salsa is tart from the lime, and  the avocado and roasted corn add some sweetness. This soup is beautiful, delicious, and can serve as an appetizer or entree!
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Corn-Miso Soup with Roasted Corn Guacamole
Adapted From: Simply Mexican - Lourdes Castro

Makes 8-10 Servings

Guacamole:
4 C. Corn Kernels, defrosted or fresh
2 TBS. Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 TBS. Red Onion, minced
4 TBS. Fresh Cilantro, minced
2 Limes, juiced
1 1/2 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded, minced
2 Avocados, small dice

Preheat oven to 450.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Toss corn with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Spread corn out evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, until golden brown. 
When cool, combine the corn with the rest of the ingredients. Adjust Salt and pepper to taste.



Soup:
7 C. Corn Kernels, defrosted or fresh 
3 TBS. Olive Oil
1 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Red Onion, small dice
2 jalapeno's, stemmed and seeded, small dice
Salt and Pepper
3TBS. Miso Paste
3-4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth (depending on the thickness of the soup)
(Optional) Fresh Cilantro, garnish
(Optional) Truffle Oil, garnish
(Optional) Pitas, cut into 1/6ths and toasted

Heat olive oil in soup pot and sauté the red onion and jalapenos till red onion becomes translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.  Add in the corn kernel and 1 cup of the vegetable broth.  Use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth and creamy, adding in a cup of broth at time till the soup becomes the desired consistency.  Simmer on low, covered, for 15 minutes. 

Ladles soup into bowls.  Place a generous spoonful of guacamole in the center of each bowl.  Garnish with pita chip, cilantro and truffle oil.    

This soup can be served hot or cold

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dim Sum It Up

A few weeks ago, I went to Washington D.C. for a much needed vacation.  I got to swim, shop in farmers markets, sleep, and eat awesome food.  I stayed by close friends who are foodies like me.  Between all my nap time and swimming, I was asked to make dumplings.  Having not made dim sum since mod 4 of culinary school, I tried to remember exactly how to fold the dumplings correctly.  After about 12, I got the hang of it and was hooked.  Dumplings are easy to make and always such a crowd pleaser. 

When I got back to New York, I wanted to reciprocate my DC dumpling dish and make dim sum.   Normally, dim sum are made in bamboo steamers.   I don’t own one, nor have I had the time to go out and buy one. So, I did what any person would do and I looked up what to do on Google.  I searched for tips on how to steam dim sum without a bamboo steamer. I found a "sear and steam" method that struck my interest.

You can squish these little dumplings in a pan when steaming and not worry about sticking.  The sauce is the perfect compliment and has just the right amount of kick and flavor to complete the overall dish.  I served five on a plate with sauce on the side.  This recipe makes a lot of filling so  I froze it for later use and cannot wait to make this again! 

Maybe I will make all 70 just for myself!  Ya, they were that good!       
 


Dim Sum Dumplings
Serving Size: About 70+ Dumplings

1 lb Ground Chicken
1 Onion, minced
1 Scallion, chopped small
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
½ C. Shredded Carrot
¼ C. Water Chestnuts, small dice
1 Egg, beaten
2 TBS. Sesame Oil
Salt and Pepper, pinch
25 Squares Egg Roll Wrappers, cut into 4 squares

Mix everything together thoroughly, except the wonton wrappers. 
Place a tablespoon of the mixture at the center of each wonton wrapper.  Make sure to keep the rest of the wonton wrappers covered with a slightly damp towel.  Lightly dip the tip of your pinky in water and rub around the edges of the wonton wrapper.  Pinch the wonton closed and make sure it is completely sealed.  Put the finished wontons on a tray and cover with a slightly damp towel. 
When all the wontons are made, Heat a pan (make sure it has a lid) with 1 2 TBS. Oil.  Put all the wontons in the pan, fitting in as many as you can.  The wontons can touch.  Sear for about 3 minutes till the bottoms become golden brown.   Being extremely careful, pour in 1/2 of a cup of water, enough to reach halfway up the wontons.  Immediately cover.  Keep covered and let steam for 3 minutes.  Uncover and remove the wontons from pan. Drain and serve with dipping sauce.       





Dipping Sauce
¼ C. Soy Sauce
¼ C. Rice Vinegar or Mirin
1 TBS. Sesame Oil
1 tsp. Sugar
1 t. Sriracha
1t. Garlic, minced
2 Scallions, greens only, cut on a bias
Sesame Seeds 

Combine all ingredients together thoroughly, except the scallions and sesame seed.  When ready to serve, sprinkle the sesame seeds and scallions over the top of the dumplings and the sauce.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Frozen Dessert Link-Up

As you all might know by now, I am a big fan of frozen desserts! Chocolate chip cookies, lemon meringue pie, cheesecake...they are all meant to be frozen!   Today is the first ever kosher frozen dessert link up!  I am showcasing my Raspberry-Avocado Sorbet and posting a link below that gives you access to the desserts of the kosher link up participants.

Raspberry-Avocado Sorbet
1 Avocado
1 lime, juiced
2 C. Frozen Raspberries*
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 C. Water
1 C. Sugar
In a food processor, process avocado, berries, lime and vanilla.  Combine water and sugar in a pan and simmer on stove till sugar dissolves and creates a simple syrup.  Pour the simple syrup** into the food process or and process till smooth.  Serve immediately or freeze for later.  If you are freezing for later, take the sorbet out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator a 1/2 hour before serving.
*Any fruit may be used for the sorbet. If using raspberries and you don't like the seeds, puree first and strain the seeds out.  The strained raspberries can then be added with the rest of the ingredients.  
**If you don’t like the sorbet as sweet, you can use half of the simple syrup.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tongue in Cheek. Literally.


Yesterday, I overcame a fear that has been haunting me for the past ten years. It is never admirable for a chef to tell people that they are afraid to try certain foods.  I have happily tasted sweetbreads, heart, gutted fish, and cooked rabbit.  But I was scared, no, more like terrified and nauseated by the thought of eating..............TONGUE!  (cue the horror music)

People have been trying to convince me for YEARS to eat this tender and supposedly delicious meat, but every time I had the opportunity I chickened out.  
     
Here's how my fear began; About ten years ago I was working for a kosher caterer on Passover.  It was my first introduction into the catering world and mass food production.  I was mindlessly peeling about two hundred carrots over a trash can and drifting into my thoughts, when a small Russian lady came over to where I was working, plopped down a huge pan of large tongues.  I didn't even notice she was there, until I started seeing taste buds being flung into the trash can.  Unrecognizable at first, I looked to see what was in the pan.  A large, grayish piece of meat with an uncanny resemblance to a massive human tongue. 

Newsflash - cow tongues look exactly like human tongues!  Nauseated, I pulled the "I think my peeler is broken" excuse and ran to the back of the room to gather my thoughts and breathe.  I remember my heart pounding and thinking for the first time in my life that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a chef.  If I couldn't handle tongue, how was I supposed to ever handle liver, hearts and fish?  I was hoping that experience wouldn't affect me, but it did...for the next ten years!     

Albert Einstein famously said, "I admit thoughts influence the body."  This quote inspired me to build the courage to try tongue.  Solo has a new dish on the menu featuring  tongue.  I asked for a bite and was made a plate.  The mental image of tongue resonated in my mind as I stared at the sliced pieces on the plate in front of me.  I thought, "It's now or never."  I  changed my negative thoughts about tongue, took a bite, and it was absolutely delicious!  Tongue is such a tender piece of meat.  It is a little gamey, but nonetheless perfection.  I ate the whole thing and was left completely satisfied. Today, I keep thinking back to that first bite of tongue.  I am still a tad nauseated by the thought of it, but once I get past the mental image, I am able to thoroughly enjoy it.     



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